How would you do a critical analysis of “Boys and Girls” by Alice Munro?  

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A critical analysis of Alice Munro’s story “Boys and Girls” involves looking at each element of the story and seeing how well it helps fulfill the story’s purpose.

Let’s talk first about the story’s purpose. “Boys and Girls” is a tale of growing up. The narrator is a young girl, but she is more of a tomboy than anything else. Throughout the story, she notices changes in herself and in the people around her and the ways they expect her to behave. By the end of the story, the narrator’s father calls her “only a girl,” and the narrator starts to think that maybe it is true. She is giving in to the social expectations that demand that she behave and think and see herself as a girl. The author allows readers to determine whether this is good or bad or in between.

For your analysis, then, you should examine the story’s plot, characters, setting, themes, and style and determine how each of them works (or not) to promote the story’s purpose. In terms of plot, think about how the story builds to its climax of the narrator letting the horse Flora escape.

As you reflect on the characters, you might discuss how the narrator and her brother change as they grow and how their parents’ expectations of them change as well.

The setting is rather unusual, and it contributes to the narrator’s early life as a tomboy when she helps her father with his work.

The story’s themes include growing up and shifting perspectives about the world and about oneself. You could also talk about the theme of gender roles and how the narrator is beginning to accept them as she grows.

Finally, stylistically, pay close attention to the author’s use of vivid description and figurative language. Think about how these contribute to the story’s purpose by allowing us to picture the scenes and access the narrator’s thoughts in detail. You may also want to consider the story’s use of flashbacks and dialogue.

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